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Devon Lee Carlson's Coachella album
Courtesy of Devon Lee Carlson

Devon Lee Carlson on the jeans and a nice top-ification of Coachella

The Guess model reflects on the changing tides of festival fashion, Frank Ocean, and her obsession with Liz Hurley

This year, Coachella had no shortage of twists and turns – from the last-minute addition of forever Kerrang faves Blink-182, to the will-he-won’t-he of Frank Ocean and his somewhat bizarre showing on Sunday night. Nestled deep in the Coachella Valley, Guess brought its closest friends and family to the action, taking over an entire street in Indio and branding it the Guess Compound. Each mini-mansion read like a who’s-who of Instagram and TikTok: Luka Sabbat partook in some (very LA) IV drip therapy, while Evan Mock sat poolside, with festival headliners Bad Bunny, BLACKPINK, and Rosalía a stone’s throw away.

Also invited? Model, Guess muse, and YouTuber Devon Lee Carlson, who is an old friend of Guess USA Creative Director, Nicolai Marciano, “Guess HQ is actually on the same lot as my childhood dance studio,” Devon says. A Coachella mainstay for a decade, the compound’s glamorous digs and five-star catering offered a slightly different vibe to the “Starbucks sandwiches” Devon usually feasts on between festival days. A longtime lover of all things Guess, Devon dives deep on her first memories of the brand, her festival essentials, and why Liz Hurley is an overlooked style icon who deserves her flowers.

Hey Devon! How has your Coachella been? 

Devon Lee Carlson: Yesterday night was fun. I actually went to the Yuma tent for the first time. I’ve gone to Coachella for 10 years and I’ve never made my way into the techno tent until yesterday. I saw Maceo Plex, who was awesome. Then I dropped off my sister at an after party and I went home. I just wasn't feeling a big rager.

Good idea to pace yourself. What do you like most about Coachella?

Devon Lee Carlson: My first Coachella was in 2013. So I’ve been going for 10 years, minus the COVID years. It just feels like a playground. You get to run around with your friends and see a tonne of different artists all in one place. It just feels like there are no rules.

Devon Lee Carlson: Frank Ocean. I saw him at FYF Fest when he played there last, and that was, like, so emotional. I’m not really a girl who tends to make it through all three days. I think the whole lineup is really smart, though. I’ll pop into a few acts – like today I'm seeing Ethel Cain and Charli XCX. I’m seeing the girls!

What is your approach to the whole getting ready for Coachella?

Devon Lee Carlson: In the beginning, I spent like months planning outfits and making sure I had it all planned. But now I know the way it works, and the lay of the land, I’m kind of just throwing things into a suitcase! My boyfriend bought me a Miu Miu skirt for Christmas because I had seen one at Maxfield in Malibu and wanted it so badly. When I opened it up, I said, ‘I'm wearing this’. And when I went to my Guess fitting, I got a custom pair of shorts made and just knew I was wearing those. I just really like to be comfortable. I feel like with Coachella, it’s now more different to just be wearing jeans and a t-shirt. The whole thing is like a fashion show. Like, I love seeing everyone, everyone's outfits, and it’s so fun to me. I just feel like the more times that I go, the more I almost take a seat back. 

What was your first memory of Guess?

Devon Lee Carlson: The Claudia Schiffer campaigns shot by Ellen Von Unwerth.  I was just obsessed with the imagery. 

Is Claudia your favourite Guess girl of all time?

Devon Lee Carlson: Yes, I also love Drew Barrymore’s campaign too. I die for that one. Irina Shayk too. I went to their headquarters downtown and you can see everyone. Every iconic model has been a Guess Girl.

When you think of Guess, you immediately think of denim. Do You have any denim icons? Who do you think wears denim the best?

Devon Lee Carlson: Cindy Crawford wears denim really well. And I have this saved picture of Elizabeth Hurley, walking in the airport and she’s wearing these bootleg jeans paired with a gorgeous pump. I feel like that image is ingrained in my mind.

You're a little Liz Hurley now I'm looking at you…

Devon Lee Carlson: Oh my God. That is my favourite thing anyone has ever said to me. Have you seen her current Instagram? I am literally on it all the time. She’s my favourite follow.

Ok last question, what are your festival essentials?

Devon Lee Carlson: I feel like a bandana. I used to fucking refuse to bring a bandana. Cause I was just like, it's not my vibe and then I was miserable the entire time. So now I'm always carrying one tied on any bag because it gets so dusty. Sunglasses, too, and this is kinda weird but I bring a lot of essential oils. I have these sprays that energize you – at least, that’s what they’re meant to do. And I just love to believe it. So I'm always like, if I'm feeling tired, I'll spray the aromatherapy and breathe it in and convince myself that I have energy. They don’t really leave my bag and when I transfer things into my small Coachella bag, they always make the cut.